Recently on a trip to New York, we were going to the Staten Island ferry on the subway. About three stops away, the conductor made an announcement: “If you want to get off for the Staten Island Ferry, you must move to the first five cars of this train!”
Have you ever tried to figure out what car of a subway you’re on?!
At the next stop, we rushed out and started running forward hoping to find a sufficiently forward car. With the help of the conductor waiving us into the car right in front of him, we finally found the right place. Several others had also scrambled and after getting settled in their seats started telling each other the story of the scramble. One said, “I was thinking, are we on the right train? The conductor said we had to move so we scrambled.” Chuckles and agreement. Another added, “He was like go forward and man we had to hurry”. More chuckles.
Listening to them, I started wondering why we would tell ourselves a story about something we all just experienced. Moreover, why are people telling their own version of the story even though someone else just told it. Almost like once we’ve decided to share a story, we have a hard time holding back even though someone already finished the same story. This seems so odd and yet if we listen for it, we’ll see it everywhere.
We’re all in search of validation that others experience things the same way we do. It’s why we share stories. It’s why it bothers us so much when someone remembers a detail wrong (that we remember so clearly). It’s why we listen to and read the stories of others so we can learn more about ourselves.
Recognizing our need for validation can help us serve others, validating their experience and encouraging them to tell their stories. We too, should tell our stories so others know they aren’t alone, that many of the things they experience and feel are not unique.
Something to observe and consider – what are people searching for when they share stories and why do we feel so compelled to convince other people to see things our way?
Or maybe I’m wrong… what do you think? Feel free to leave a comment.